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AREA AGENCY ON AGING WANTS TO KNOW: Who is Jefferson County’s oldest resident?

February 9, 2012

Jefferson County Area Agency on Aging (JCAAA) receptionist Rita Zelman (far right) and Mikki Oakes (middle), JCAAA director of Development & Community Relations, review agency services with IT Director Deb Hamilton. JCAAA is seeking the county’s oldest person to preserve history and to find new ways to serve the county’s older citizens. (Photo by Natalie Bruzda/Punxsutawney Spirit)

BROOKVILLE — Since its inception, the Jefferson County Area Agency on Aging (JCAAA) has tried to provide county residents with resources that would allow them to stay in their homes longer.

But for the agency to continue to be a vital asset to the county’s older citizens, it is seeking help from one specific source — the county’s oldest resident.

“I think there’s so much history out there that we need to embrace,” JCAAA Executive Director Randy Davis said. “We want to ask, ‘How’d you make it? How’d you get there?’ We want to know the secrets to his or her success.”

The JCAAA is asking the county resident who has celebrated the most birthdays to come forward to share his or her life experiences.

This request was prompted by a resident with a relative over 100 years old, and Davis followed up on the request, seeing it as a vital opportunity.

So far, numerous individuals have come forward, many in their 90s, but only three county residents have admitted to being more than a century old.

“These people are a part of history,” JCAAA Director of Development & Community Relations Mikki Oakes said. “And unless we get to pick their brains, we’re going to lose that piece of history. I would love to be able to talk to them.”

The request has come at a time when the agency is writing a new four-year plan which will be implemented from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2016.

According to Davis, the agency is required to write a plan every four years on how it is going to provide services for the county and what it wants to accomplish in the next four years.

Part of the plan is outreach.

“It’s an interesting spin for us to try to find out who the county’s oldest person is,” he said. “I think it’s going to generate an interest in some of our programs from people that haven’t really thought about using our services. It’s a way to start the conversation.”

Among other services, the JCAAA provides county residents with access to four senior centers; exercise programs; tax preparation; and rent rebate.
“We want our name out there a little bit more,” Davis said. “People may have moved back to the area, and they don’t know us.”

Davis and Oakes would also like county residents to know that the agency is available to help older citizens along the way, not just in cases of emergency.

“With our help, people can age in their homes a lot longer,” Oakes said.
She said she is surprised by the fact that three county residents are over 100 years old, and that many more residents in their 90s are still very active in the local community.

“It’s amazing how many folks are living longer and staying healthy,” Davis said.

But he’s also aware that the world continues to lose World War II veterans on a daily basis. Last Saturday, the last remaining World War I survivor died at the age of 110.

“We’re losing that generation, and the more folks we can make contact with and preserve that history and pass on their stories, it would be great,” he said.

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